NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - It looks more like a video game – doctors equipped with a virtual reality headset and controllers. But it’s a fairly new medical device. Dr Robert Louis is a neurosurgeon at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport beach.
"We take patient's standard MRIs and CT scans then load them into the surgical theater system and it creates a 360-degree model which we're able to then fly inside using virtual reality technology,” said Dr. Louis. “It allows us to rehearse and plan for the operation. It also allows patients to get a chance to fly inside their own brain and decrease the level of anxiety associated with going into surgery."
In the four years Hoag Memorial has had the virtual technology, Dr. Louis has used it on more than a thousand patients, including Meera Sawhney. She was suffering from headaches and dizziness for years until she fell and hit her head during one of her fainting spells. Doctors found a tumor in her brain causing her symptoms. Her first thought? Her daughter.
"I mean I was concerned about myself but I was really concerned about how it would affect my family especially my daughter I didn't want her to have a mom who couldn’t speak or communicate," she said.
Studies by Mount Sinai University and Stanford proved that this technology is saving lives.
"It showed that surgeons using the virtual reality as compared to standard imaging using surgical theater, 25% of the time it led to a change in the surgical plan," said Dr. Louis.
However, only 15 hospitals in the nation use this surgical theatre technology.
"Unfortunately, 99% of the hospitals in the country are doing it the old school way doing it without this technology. They haven’t realized that there’s a better way,” Dr. Louis adds, “the technology is cool but what really makes a difference is that we're using this technology to save people's lives.”